How Do I Find A Great Luthier?

TSJMajesty

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Just changed strings and I noticed the first signs of some fret wear on my SS frets. Whew, I've been playing the shit out of this guitar. Coming up on 4 years old I think.
Anyway, what tips can you share to find a really good luthier for when I need to deal with these frets? I know a guy who works at PRS and another who used to work at Knaggs, so I'll ask them, but anything else that could help me find one?
 
Just changed strings and I noticed the first signs of some fret wear on my SS frets. Whew, I've been playing the s**t out of this guitar. Coming up on 4 years old I think.
Anyway, what tips can you share to find a really good luthier for when I need to deal with these frets? I know a guy who works at PRS and another who used to work at Knaggs, so I'll ask them, but anything else that could help me find one?
Are you willing to ship it somewhere, and have some down time from the guy being in demand?
 
It’s always been word of mouth for me.

That’s got an ebony fingerboard, doesn’t it? Take your time and find someone who can really pull it off. My JEM was mutilated by a dude who didn’t give a sh*t and there’s chunks of the fingerboard missing at the higher frets that I have to fill in at some point. Doesn’t effect the playability, but the first time I picked it up after the re-fret he said “It’s had surgery so it’s got some wounds” right as I was looking down and my heart just sank.

And that wasn’t even the worst issue, the truss rod being loosened and not tightened back up nearly ruined that guitar….if I want to adjust the truss rod, it’s a two man job, someone holding the body down while I pull down on the headstock enough to get the truss rod tool over the nut. The headstock has to be bent down with the neck staying straight to clear the wood pushing against the truss rod nut.

The guy didn’t even level/crown the frets. I was so pissed off I just left because he was the last dude I wanted fixing the guitar.
 
It’s always been word of mouth for me.

That’s got an ebony fingerboard, doesn’t it?
Yep
Take your time and find someone who can really pull it off. My JEM was mutilated by a dude who didn’t give a sh*t and there’s chunks of the fingerboard missing at the higher frets that I have to fill in at some point. Doesn’t effect the playability, but the first time I picked it up after the re-fret he said “It’s had surgery so it’s got some wounds” right as I was looking down and my heart just sank.

And that wasn’t even the worst issue, the truss rod being loosened and not tightened back up nearly ruined that guitar….if I want to adjust the truss rod, it’s a two man job, someone holding the body down while I pull down on the headstock enough to get the truss rod tool over the nut. The headstock has to be bent down with the neck staying straight to clear the wood pushing against the truss rod nut.

The guy didn’t even level/crown the frets. I was so pissed off I just left because he was the last dude I wanted fixing the guitar.
Wow, that truly sucks!
 
Here’s what I do:

- Do as much as possible myself, including fret leveling and crown and polish,
- For the things I can’t/won’t do (refret), obsessively search for the very best person in the universe, fret over the cost, worry about whether or not they’ll ruin one of my favorite guitars, search for a different very best person in the world, fret over the cost, worry about whether or not they’ll ruin one of my favorite guitars, I think you’re getting the point so I’ll stop here….
- Never find someone I’m satisfied with and continue to play the guitar into the ground.
- 12-18 months later, repeat.

It’s working out swimmingly so far…. Doesn’t everyone enjoy playing frets that are .030” tall?

Going Crazy Steam Train GIF


D
 
Also know a couple of dudes in Maine that are quite talented. Laurent Brondel or Chuck Thornton.

I was watching a video interview by Philip McKnight with Joe Knaggs and Peter Wolf. I’m tempted to get a guitar from Knaggs now. Loves his attitude.
 
Ever do a Plek?

I’ve done my PRS once after about four years. It’s getting there again but it needs other work including nut.
 
Also know a couple of dudes in Maine that are quite talented. Laurent Brondel or Chuck Thornton.

I was watching a video interview by Philip McKnight with Joe Knaggs and Peter Wolf. I’m tempted to get a guitar from Knaggs now. Loves his attitude.

Do you live in Maine?!
 
I look for reviews on popular sites in my area, also talk to players around you.

I lucked into my current tech about 13 years ago and haven’t a single complaint. Was referred to him by a buddy here that plays.

Went down and talked to him, told him what I wanted and dude took notes. Got my guitar back and it was perfect.

It’s been a long time know and he knows what I dig, but got the first couple years he’d pull out that notebook and check off points with me when I’d leave a guitar there to make sure I still wanted that stuff.

Awesome guy, great player and really listens to what I want.

I’m planning on moving soon and one of the things I’m going to miss the most is the fact that this guy is 15 mins from me lol.

I’ll probably have him do some tune ups on my stuff before I leave and end up coming back here at least once a year when I buy guitars to have him work his magic.
 
in los angeles we got tons of them. we are lucky.

my guy is rafael barajas, who works as head of the yamaha custom shop and is formerly with james tyler. he also taught guitar craft at musicians institute, so he kinda knows his shit.
 
Unless you are in NH or MA I got nothing. I will say I have used John Mann in the past who does custom work for PRS and he does a fantastic job.
 
Find a local guy with a good reputation and talk to him. Play his guitar and see if he understands you and what you need. I guarantee that a poor playing tech is a poor tech . Better still he should be able to play the sort of things as you . Work should not be visible, ever. A mod should look like it came that way and refrets should look like they have always been there.
 
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